Saturday, October 29, 2016


I sensed I didn't care, and I
knew that made things tough.
I was sitting, way down in some
southern Jersey outpost in the
pure middle-fringe of the
Pine Barrens, on a sandy
roadway -   nothing paved,
farmland around me, a few
pigs squealing as I threw
them their slop, it was a
late October, long afternoon,
the sky was fading to a dull
sort of orange, the roadway
paths and the endless scrub
pines had taken on a strange
orange glow themselves. I
didn't actually 'know' it was
the Pine Barrens, if it was.
That was a name people
 gave the area  -  not much
yet development, an odd
water-table, sand and little
hillocks, animals and ground
creatures, a filter-like sandy
soil, through which everything
liquid ran  -  self-cleansing,
as it were. Back home, before
all this, my father used to use
what was called 'Diatomaceous
Earth', or something like that,
in the pool filter system  -
same thing. Some ancient,
granular soil, from the real
true heart of the land, through
which the water ran to be
cleansed. Talk about Paradox.
Running through dirt in order
to be cleaned. Like Salvation
At each turn of events, there
was criticism, always: 'Done
incorrectly, skipped step five,
forgot about his, did too much
of that.' I got tired of hearing it.
What did I know anyway  -  if
all the others knew the rights
and the corrects, let them do
it all. I wanted my refuge.
There came a point that I
realized there was no way
in hell I wanted to become an
active agitator or representative
for the existing structure of
whatever 'religion' was going
down. Candles and candelabra.
Fire and scent. Incense and
peppermint, curse of Mankind.
(No, no, that was later).
Little boy lost, come blow
your horn, the sheep's in the
meadow, the cow's in the corn.
There seemed just always
too much going on : men
in bad suits, pomaded hair
and narrow ties. It always
seemed that politicians
ended up looking like
real-estate sharks, real-estate
sharks wanted to be like
barbers,  and barbers wanted
to be Managers of some
Woolworth's somewhere.
They are all interchangeable,
and stupid too boot. It's all
the same now, just slightly
changed, a new and better
'frequency', as it were. I had
two, interchangeable, cheap
dark-fabric suits, and I hated
each of them. On days when
I had to wear them (often
enough, and in a place
like that I always questioned
why), I gulped. Hated each
moment. The rest of the time
I had some really lame, cheap
and tacky, 'school' clothes.
Overused and over-worn.
What the hell does a 13-year
old kid, in his second year
in some private-school dump,
know about laundry, or care?
I know I didn't. The bloom
had long ago, and quickly,
left this rose.
There was an outpost, a place I
found once, deep in the barrens.
It was a cranberry camp, for all
the seasonal pickers. Abandoned,
off-season, I guess, no one around.
During cranberry season, the area
is busy  -  Ocean Spray and the
others, they have plants and
warehouses around here and 
there. This location, onto 
which I stumbled, took some
getting to  -  scrub woods, lots
of weedy stuff, an old path. 
Eventually, by walking, 
(obviously, there must have 
been another, better-traveled,
road in, maybe from a front
or side I'd not seen), I passed,
with surprise, a collection of
bee-keepers' things  -  those
hive-cabinets they keep or
whatever they are. About 
thirty of them, in a semi-circle 
range of each other. And then
some barracks-like buildings.
What was cool was that, 
communally, each building,
perhaps having no running
water, faced and shared a 
sandy, outside court wherein 
was a collection of shower 
stalls, sinks, three or four
outhouses, and a lean-to
type shelter of bench seats
along a wall. Making it even
more astounding, the line of
sinks ran in a row, and arrayed
along it, every 10 feet or so,
were metal, chrome soap dishes,
shoulder-high, and in each one
was still a bar of soap. All this
was mysterious and strange to
me. It (only vaguely) reminded 
me of Boy Scout camp : Camp 
Cowaw (little pine), in which 
we too had had a sort of
'communal' shower and wash
area, though nothing like this 
one. And that was 1959 anyway.
This one was, first, much larger
and far more industrious in its
set-up; serious, camp-like. I
immediately wondered about it.
Was it current? Only men? 
Only these seasonal men 
workers (I'd seen cranberry
bog workers, in the past, of
both sexes)? It all seemed like
a labor-camp, almost as if
some slavery set-up took place
there. Work by groups. All
quite confusing. But, in any
case, I loved it and thought it
to be the neatest-looking place
I'd seen. We had just recently,
in the seminary, done a Nazi
prison-camp play, entitled
'Stalag 17', and it reminded
me, immediately, mentally, 
of that entire milieu and 
scenario, which we'd only 
tried imitating or suggesting 
on the stage by props and
imaginings  - chairs, a few
tables, a fake, painted
camp-view out. In the theater
and on stage, that stuff is all
done by the visual suggestion
of props and painted scrims.
You kind of have to 'get' the
point across, almost scientifically,
with the most minimal of space
and effects How big, really, is 
a stage, and one 70 feet away 
as well? It's all trompe l'oeil
(trick the eye) kind of stuff. A
gimmick, yes, but an important
and vital one for telling the
purported storyline and getting 
 an adventure-in-time across. All
suggested. All made. By contrast,
this was solid-real? I wasn't that
sure. And then my mind, as it 
usually does, and did then too,
began extrapolating outward with
the ideas : how like life is all this?
Props and visual suggestions put 
to work to accelerate our own
somehow self-accrediting 'version' 
of acceptance and belief in what
we are viewing. It has its own
time-scheme, an opening, an 
Act I, a changeover, a 
denouement, a tragic, or a comic,
 lesson, an Act II, or III, and, 
curiously, an ending  -  always 
that. The vast curtain comes down.
Just like water, getting
cleaned by running
through dirt? I

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